There is a lot of partisan squabbling and finger pointing going on in the world today. I am not just talking about politics, but rival fanbases, religious denominations, and work alliances as well.
The thing that is most saddening, appalling, and increasingly frustrating about this is the unabashed hypocrisy with which we approach these battles. Here are two easy examples (one from each of the political aisle):
We are part of a neighborhood Facebook group that was touting its desire to be inclusive, to love people as they are, as part of Gay Pride month. Beautiful language was used, such as “we want to be radically-inclusive”, “this neighborhood needs to be a welcoming place for all”, etc. And in the midst of it, a garage-sell notice was posted, with the proud addition: “NO anti-vaxxers welcome”. It was made clear this was not because of safety but because “we don’t want them here”.
And then yesterday, we saw a right-leaning friend post about a cafe that was charging people extra to wear a mask. The post, from a person who consistently bemoans being shamed into wearing a mask, was celebrating shaming others for wearing a mask.
There is a clear reality going on that we need to be honest about. We are either in favor of personal freedom or we are in favor of our version of personal freedom. “Personal liberty” is either the freedom for someone to choose their way or it means the freedom for me to choose my way, for those who agree with me to be unencumbered as well, but for those with different ideas to be limited in their freedoms.
In short, oppression is a two way street. We cannot fight against it in one way and celebrate it in another. This is not truth or justice. Hypocrisy is just the tip of the iceberg when describing what is wrong here.
I am not trying to talk about politics here. I have strong opinions, just like most people, but this is more about the danger of the process we use (me included) than getting into any specific cause.
A dysfunctional organization is one where two or more participants are chasing after divergent visions. So, for example, if the employees are working for a paycheck and the CEO is working to become famous, the organization will be splintered. Or, if one of those entities is working toward the mission of the organization and others are working to validate their own agenda, the organization will be fractured. We see this in marriage all the time – “drifting apart” just means each participant was heading toward their own vision instead of a shared one.
My worry is that most of us (maybe all!) have an internal dysfunction problem. Part of us is aiming toward big-picture justice, standing up for what is right because it is right. Freedom. Justice. Love. Truth. But the other part of us is seeing these through a very narrow framework; what I want, what I think, what I prefer. Our noble fight for the right things fades away when we don’t like the conclusion someone comes to. Or, even more dangerous, we cannot tell the difference.
Sure there is a right and wrong side of specific issues. But we have to do a better job of explaining why that is so. We have to do a better job of describing that reality without becoming the very thing we accuse “others” of being.
Let’s take a step away from politics. Have you ever had someone (a friend or a parent) who says, “you never call me” and you think to yourself, “You know, the phone works both ways.” Have you ever uttered these words: “He is so selfish, why can’t he think about me for once?!” Or how about this one: “she is such a gossip. Which I wouldn’t do if I were her considering the awful state of her marriage.”
We do this all the time. We are measuring others on a different scale than we measure ourselves. That is not only dangerous; it is insidious. And childish.
What this kind of hypocrisy does is create blind spots in our self-awareness, the way we see others, and the truth of reality. It makes us into a dysfunctional organism, one that contributes to the very things we are fighting against.